06/14/2016 13:39 EDT | Updated 06/15/2017 01:12 EDT

Vancouver brothers get four years in prison for $4.9M tax fraud scheme

VANCOUVER — Two brothers have been sentenced to more than four years each in prison for what a British Columbia judge says was "industrial scale" tax fraud.

Vancouver residents Fareed Raza and Saheem Raza were both found guilty of fraud over $5,000 in December 2015 for issuing fake donation receipts in exchange for cash donations that were not passed on to charity.

The court found that Fareed, who is 42, and 35-year-old Saheem prepared their clients' taxes and issued false receipts worth more than the amount of money the clients provided.

When the taxpayers were audited by the Canada Revenue Agency, the Razas issued letters confirming the donations.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elliott Myers says in a sentencing decision released Tuesday that the Razas issued more than 17,000 false donation claims and defrauded the federal and provincial governments of about $4.9 million in taxes between December 2002 and June 2011.

Myers says in his decision that the fraud was "significant" and "on an industrial scale," and he sentenced each of the brothers to 51 months in prison.

The fake donations were made to the Mehfuz Children Welfare Trust, a charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency that was said to provide medical services in Bangladesh.

A third man found guilty of fraud under $5,000 in December 2015 for participating in the scheme was given an absolute discharge.

The judge ruled that Faiz Khan played a minor role in the crimes.

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